“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” For the past few years we have begun evaluating a few peach cultivars here in our orchard. A summary of our conclusions so far would simply be this, that the ‘Reliance’ cultivar (planted in 2005 on seedling stock) outperformed the other 4 varieties tested by a long shot. After three years of fruit, Reliance has shown very little bacterial spot on fruit, and almost none on foliage, which was lush and green. The fruit has been free of brown rot while on the tree, and ripens to a very beautiful golden and orange color, sensationally fragrant when ripe, a good size and yield, and when overripe falls from the tree without hanging and rotting on the branch. The early ripening of the fruit apparently helps it avoid disease. By contrast, the Harrow Beauty (on Baily, planted the same year and given the same treatment), has fruited
only once (a large crop in ’08) and has had severe difficulty with brown rot and bacterial spot to the point of defoliating the branches, especially on the north side of the tree. Its fruit was badly affected by bacterial spot, and most of the fruits were significantly smaller. The third “peach” planted that year was a ‘Hardired’ nectarine (on seedling stock). It has done fairly well as far as general health and has very showy flowers, but its fruit has such a terrible cracking problem that it is practically useless. Two trees planted one year later (2006) were a curl-resistant variety named ‘Charlotte’ (on Lovell), and a ‘Contender’ (on Halford). Contender was like Harrow Beauty except with larger fruit, and the same bacterial spot and brown rot problems. ‘Charlotte’, having received the same care as ‘Contender’ was at the opposite end of the spectrum – very healthy foliage with very few fruits. The leaves were so thick and lush that some common paper wasps built their open nest under them! Its fruits ripened latest of all but seemed to have decent quality and dropped nicely from the tree after ripening. A newly planted ‘Madison’ peach will be evaluated as it matures.
None of the trees have received any spray treatments [such as for pests or diseases]. The Japanese beetles tend to favor the apples and plums and have not caused significant trouble with the peaches, although they aggressively devoured over-ripe fruits. Borer (Synanthedon exitosa) damage has also been insignificant, and lesser borers (S. pictipes) have not shown up. I have noticed that one tree with some wild mint growing around its base was the only tree to be completely free of borers this year, and I think I’ll try planting oregano around the other trees. Fertilization has been accomplished by amending the soil before planting and using natural mulches and amendments such as composted leaves from the forest, manure, gypsum, rock phosphate, wood ashes, and agricultural lime. Applications have been the same for all the trees planted in the same year as well as fruit thinning and pruning practices.
Thinking about planting peaches in north central West Virginia? Reliance has certainly worked for us! “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit.” Luke 6:43-44. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:19-20 Don’t take the words of the Lord lightly. For new “genetics,” new birth is available – John 3, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Ezekiel 11:18-19, and Zephaniah 3:8-9.